Shalmey: description of the instrument, structure, sound, history

Shalmey: description of the instrument, structure, sound, history

The variety of musical instruments is amazing: some of them have long been exhibits of museums, have fallen into disuse, others are experiencing a rebirth, sound everywhere, and are actively used by professional musicians. The heyday of the shalmy, a woodwind musical instrument, fell on the Middle Ages, the Renaissance. However, a certain interest in the curiosity re-emerged towards the end of the XNUMXth century: today there are connoisseurs of antiquity who are ready to play the shawl and adapt the sound for the performance of modern musical works.

Description of the tool

Shawl is a long pipe made from a single piece of wood. The body sizes are different: there were instances reaching three meters in length, others – only 50 cm. The length of the shawl determined the sound: the larger the body size, the lower, juicier it became.

Shalmey: description of the instrument, structure, sound, history

The shawl is the second loudest acoustic instrument, behind the trumpet.

The structure of the shawl

The structure from the inside, the outside is quite simple, including the following main elements:

  1. Chassis. Collapsible or solid, inside there is a small conical channel, outside – 7-9 holes. The case expands downwards – the wide part sometimes serves as the location of additional holes that serve to diffuse sound.
  2. Sleeve. A tube made of metal, one end inserted into the body. A cane is put on the other end. The small tool has a short, straight tube. Large shawls have a long, slightly curved sleeve.
  3. Mouthpiece. A cylinder made of wood, widening at the top, having a small channel inside. It is put on a sleeve with a cane.
  4. Cane. The main element of the shawl, responsible for sound production. The basis is 2 thin plates. The plates touch, forming a small hole. Sound depends on the size of the hole. The cane wears out quickly, becomes unusable, requires regular replacement.

Shalmey: description of the instrument, structure, sound, history


The shawl is an oriental invention. Presumably, it was brought to Europe by Crusader soldiers. Having undergone certain improvements, it quickly spread among various classes.

The epochs of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance were the period of popularity of the shawl: celebrations, holidays, ceremonies, dance evenings could not do without it. There were entire orchestras consisting solely of shawls of various sizes.

The XNUMXth century is the period when the shawl was replaced by a new instrument, similar in appearance, sound, design: the gabae. The reason for oblivion lay also in the growing popularity of stringed instruments: they were lost in the company of a shawl, drowning out any music with a loud sound, sounding too primitive.

Shalmey: description of the instrument, structure, sound, history


Shawl makes a bright sound: piercing, loud. The instrument has 2 full octaves.

The design does not require fine tuning. The sound is influenced by external factors (humidity, temperature), the physical impact of the performer (breathing force, squeezing the reed with his lips).

The performance technique, despite the primitive design, requires considerable effort: the musician must constantly inhale the air, which causes tension in the facial muscles and rapid fatigue. Without special training, it will not work to play something really worthy on a shawl.

Today, the shawl remains exotic, although some musicians use the sounds of the instrument when recording modern compositions. Usually attention is paid to it by musical groups playing in the folk-rock style.

Loyal connoisseurs of curiosity are history lovers who seek to recreate the atmosphere of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance.

Capella@HOME I (SCHALMEI/ SHAWM) - Anonym: La Gamba

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